The difference Between a Bigot and a Racist
What is Bigotry?
As many dictionaries define; the term bigotry is the intolerance of people who are different or have different views and opinions to ourselves. It is the act of strong and unreasonable beliefs against people, with a derogatory atmosphere. Bigotry can often be mistaken for prejudice or racism but it is in fact a discrimination in its own right. It is a more severe form of discrimination than that of prejudice as it is accompanied by undesired behaviour, it is often ignorant and spiteful in its nature and does not need a system or any social power to engage with it. It can just be a single person who instigates a particular occurrence of bigotry. It can be hard to distinguish in everyday life the differences between these two terms and those who stand up and fight against those who demonstrate bigotry behaviours can also be labelled as the like, because they are in fact being negative towards those who are bigoted. However, it is important to understand that bigotry is the ignorant display of hatred towards a person or group of people and therefore being against bigotry is in fact being for tolerance. If this is confusing it is best to look to Philosopher Karl Popper who stated in his work The Paradox of Tolerance, “… if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them… We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant”
It is right to say that we must challenge those who discriminate against others, but we must also do so in the right way. We cannot become bigots ourselves, through our endeavours to stop bigots. We must, when challenging bigotry, we must do so through education and understanding not through the discrimination and isolation. The danger when challenging bigotry is the understanding that many forms of bigotry are masked by seeming concern for the wellbeing of a group, an example of this is the covert bigotry in society against larger people. This is demonstrated through television, magazine portrayals and the plethora of drives targeted towards ensuring that people are best able to lose weight. While the intention in most cases is to help people who want to have a particular body image, the message itself is that there is one more desirable shape and size of body than another, which is, in the root of the message a bigoted concept. This nature of bigotry is most complex to guard against as the example could be extended to any group in society, for example users of drugs and there is a fine line between bigotry and social concern in these cases.
What is Racism?
Much like bigotry, racism is a type of discrimination all on its own. It is the belief that all members of a particular race (such as Asians, Arabs and Jews) have characteristics, qualities and specific attributes that all present them as the same and are inferior to other races. It is very much a system and allows those who are in power to continue in their positions by quashing those around them who they deem lesser than they are. It is most common in America in white communities who refer to black people as nothing better than slave labour (a system that was only abolished in 1865 in America, but the opinion of those are still very much in existent and racism is still rife in a number of locations across the world.) Within racism there are many sub-categories that make it almost impossible to recognise it straight away unless you are actively looking for it. One of the most dangerous forms of racism is “invisible racism” which is often present in the business sector when an employer is reviewing applications for a job. As their eyes move over the forms in front of them often those who have names that are of clear Arabic or African origin are pushed to one side in favour of an applicant from a “John Smith”. It is also present in any public place that has security. A young black man may be followed around by a security guard in a shop as there is the preconception that he will steal something, when in fact anyone has the capability to be a thief.
The next type of racism (which we touched on briefly earlier in this section) is that of systematic racism. This is most often seen in banks, where you are unable to open an account until you fill in your form in English. This can be an issue if English is not your first language and can make the customer feel as though they are undeserving of the service being offered to them. Or is could be that employers do not take people on who have studied in another country as their qualification may not be deemed as good as a degree from the country in which the job is being applied to.
How can we challenge it?
In the most simplest terms, challenging racism is as straight forward as hearing someone being racist and correcting the person you hear to their unrealistic and offensive opinions. Unfortunately, there are many situations in which racism happens and people do not speak up, as they are afraid of the consequences. Especially in modern society when there is so much knife and gun crime, there is a fear that if you are to challenge someone in the street it could cost you your life. So, if you want to tackle racism and bigotry you need to do so in a safe environment and the best place for this is in schools, as children grow up teaching them tolerance of others can go a long way to changing our society. It is also possible to join a number of campaigns to prevent the effects of bigotry and racism, but we are a long way off from being able to say that we are a society without either, or the need for continual education and understanding of the topics.
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